The Tools We Used


My father gripping the lawnmower's handle

on Saturdays to pummel twigs

was how we measured time.

His pulse beating in his fingers.

One way to show love

is walking back and forth in rows.


On its side

like a frail animal

the wheel-hoe blurs

covered in rain

near wilting summer squash.


I was never taught to rip wood in half with an axe

to build a fire

like my brother.


What I've come to know of love

is a tractor blade

set to cut just above the soil,

Papa shaving his neck

with a razor while camel-crickets

clicked in the basement.


When I followed you back to your land,

when I became a woman

who farms and wears ball-caps, you tucked

your knife

in my breast pocket.


Glue that holds thin strands

of my mother's quilt, her straight blonde hairs,

the photograph of her

when she was my age and married,

in my colored notebook.


You learned love is a hammer

beating a nail into bent pine.

The chop-saw and the board it slices.


Blue Ridge campfire nights.

Brother, do you remember

parents tied the trash to a branch

while we whittled sticks

in the souring moonlight?


Digging for carrots before the first hard snow,

hand-blue and mountain-sore,

I broad-forked a foot deep in cold soil.


Shelf of nails. Bent hooks. PVC. Impact

driver. Couplings. Hand saw. Sander.

Trencher. Nail gun. Tiller. Tractor. Disc.

Apple peeler. Seeder. Spreader. Collinear

hoe. Wheel-hoe. Stirrup hoe. Pruning

scissors. Buck knife. Map lines. Gloves.


I buried my pen in my father's warehouse.